EJ Rudsdale on Twitter from 3 September 2019

31st May 1942: A trip out with the phaeton from Lawford Hall

Drove over to Lawford early, and after lunch went out in the phaeton from Lawford Hall, Robin in the shafts.  I took Penelope Belfield and Parrington’s pretty cousin, Janet Hutton.  We called at Lawford Hall to see Mrs. Belfield who was there, and then went over to Holly Lodge and called on Frank Girling.  He took two photos of Robin.

This is the photo taken by Frank Girling which appears in Rudsdale's journal, showing E.J. Rudsdale, Penelope Belfield and Janet Hutton in the phaeton with Robin in the shafts outside Holly Lodge. (Courtesy of Essex Record Office)

30th May 1942

Very busy [at the office] all morning, until 1.30.  This afternoon shopping, stable work, etc.  On duty at Castle tonight, very lonely and depressing.  Tried to talk to Molly Blomfield on the telephone, but she was not there.

There is still no water or sand available in the right places [at the Castle].

28th May 1942

Got up at 6.30.  Terrible wind blowing, with great black clouds, very low.  Had difficulty to get along, as it was against me.  Took me a full hour to cycle in [to Colchester from Lawford].

25th May 1942

Whit Monday
Office closed today, but the usual Committee meeting at Birch.  I drove right through from Lawford, stopping an hour at Colchester, to have lunch with the old people [ie: EJR's parents].

Robin did the journey very well, coming back to Colchester as lively as he left Lawford this morning.

24th May 1942

Lovely day.  Went down to Dedham in the morning.  Feeding the animals, and reading and writing all day.

The days now pass very sweetly.

19th May 1942

Cycled in this morning.  Lovely earthy smell.  About 7 o’clock I met 8 of Edwards’ horses on Ardleigh Heath, on their way to work, going along in 4 pairs, their drivers riding sideways.

This evening I took the cob round to Boast's on East Hill and collected Mrs. Parrington’s trap.  It looked a glorious sight, black and yellow, the brass work gleaming in the sunshine.  Along we went, clean horse, clean harness and clean trap, to the great admiration of Pim Barber and the other dealers outside the “White Horse”.  I was very nervous lest Robin should play-up and in any way damage the new paint.  Called at Spring-gate, Ardleigh, and saw Molly Blomfield and Mrs. Clayton in the garden.  Both admired the turnout.  

Went round by Harvey’s Farm and collected a trailer wheel, and then on to Lawford.  All the old men working in their gardens stood up to watch us go past.  Mrs. Parrington gave 5/6 for this trap, and a man who saw it in Boast’s shop offered £25, if it had been for sale.

Got unharnessed by a quarter past eight, which was not bad considering that I did not leave East Hill until 7 o’clock.  Fed Robin, the young bull and the hens.  The Parringtons were out.  Caught Roger, chopped mangold, etc.  The Parringtons came back at 9, with Frank Girling and Mrs. Jessup (Joy Parrington's cousin), they had all been over to Badwell in Suffolk for the day.  We all had a meal, and I talked agriculture and archaeology with F.G.

New moon tonight, a slim silvery crescent, which from my window appeared to hang just above the trees behind the house, in a deep blue sky.

I have never been so happy for years as I am now.

18th May 1942

Up at 6, got away at 6.30, under a canopy of high, bluey-grey clouds, the air very clear and rain-washed.  Cuckoos everywhere.  Went round the back lanes to Harvey's Farm, Ardleigh, with a repair job for Parrington, and got into Colchester at 20 to eight.  The little cob never seems to tire.

Funeral of Dennis Jeffrey, the jeweller, this afternoon at 2 o’clock.  He was a great friend of Dr. Laver.  I saw a motor hearse and three taxis outside St. Nicholas.  In the whole of the High Street only Jeffrey’s own shop and that of Sach[?] the butcher were closed (it occurred to me later that perhaps he does not open on Monday, having no meat?) and Joslins’ the ironmonger put up black boards.  Until quite recent years all the High Street shopmen closed when a prominent trader died.

17th May 1942

Such good habits now that I woke at 7 o’clock.  Breakfast of bread and cheese at 8.  The cell [at Colchester Castle], [as EJR had been on duty at the Castle that night] looked very dreary and dirty.  Went over to the office [at Hollytrees] for an hour, then the stables and Bourne Mill.  Lunch and a bath at home [ie: at Rudsdale's parents' house in Winnock Road, Colchester].

Set off with Robin at 3.30, and went round by Severalls Hall and Langham Lane, checking ploughing orders.  Glorious fine day.  Old “Trooper” Goody was at the gate of Severalls Hall, whip in hand, coloured scarf round his neck, the typical gyppo dealer.  He stared very hard at the cob, and when he recognised me he waved his whip and shouted “Hullo Sir!  How are you, Sir!  Nice handy little cob, Sir!”  I shouted back, but did not stop, as the cob was going full trot.

I had to go to Whitehouse Farm, where I have never been before.  Pleasant place.  Modern house and good buildings.

All along Langham Lane there were people cycling, mostly with baskets full of wild flowers or green food for rabbits.  Everything has come on wonderfully this last few days.  Hedges and trees are bursting forth into brilliant green, and cuckoos are calling all around.  I could not see any sign of the seven deer which are said to be loose in these parts.

Went by Perry Lane.  There is an old fashioned pair horse breaking cart by some farm buildings near New House Farm.  It might be worth taking for the museum, but it is in poor condition.

On to Lamb Corner, Dedham, and saw a piece of the Park which Freeman has ploughed.  It was only 20 minutes past 5 when I got to Dedham, which looked at its best in the afternoon sunshine, with the great trees by the church towering masses of green.  The main street was empty, everybody being at tea.

I drove along Pound Lane and up Jupes Hill.  Mr. Moorhouse’s little son was just putting his tiny pony out to graze in Stour House Park.  Stabled my pony in the cowshed at Sherbourne Mill.

15th May 1942

Beautiful fine day.  Came in with the Parringtons in their car this morning, as they were bringing in watercress.

It is published today that the whole of the raids in April killed 900 people.  If this can be believed, the rumours were even bigger lies than I thought.  But can one believe the official announcements?

14th May 1942

Got away this morning at 6.15, and trotted past Hythe Church a few minutes after 7.  It was a lovely morning, the ground heavy with dew and the air full of the sound of cuckoos.  The tower of Dedham Church projected out of the mist like a lighthouse at sea.  There were lots of horses at the Hythe, Moy’s, Co-op, and Youngs, all going out to work.  Little Robin, at the end of an eight mile run, trotted up the hill as if it was level ground.

I went up to the Castle and had a wash, and then breakfast.  This afternoon slipped out for an hour and had tea at home.

This evening I went to the Regal with Joanna to see “Hatter’s Castle”, a remarkably fine film which I much enjoyed.  I then caught the 7.30 train to Manningtree, and walked back to the Mill through Lawford Park.  Bed at 10.

13th May 1942

Air raid alarm this morning, the first that the town has heard for just a month.  Nothing appeared.

Tonight I suddenly decided to drive Robin out to Lawford.  He went well, only turning round there three times on meeting buses.  Fortunately there was nothing behind me.  He was also rather awkward about crossing Hythe Bridge and the railway.   I got to Birchett’s Wood in 50 minutes from Hythe Church, and called for some potatoes for Rose.  Mrs. Parrington seemed very pleased to see him, and admired him.  I stabled him in the cowshed.

12th May 1942

Got back [to Lawford] by 7 tonight, and spent an hour feeding, spreading straw, etc.

11th May 1942

Up at 6.30, into a world smelling of damp earth.  Everything already looks much greener. 

Committee meeting at Birch today, and I drove over with Robin.  He went quite well, although rather troublesome when we met the Indians with their horses, also with lorries. 
Very pleasant drive back afterwards, then a cycle ride to Lawford, followed by half an hour feeding stock.  Yet the whole was finished by half past 9, and strangely enough I did not feel tired.  In bed by 10 o’clock.

10th May 1942: E.J. Rudsdale moves to Lawford

Up early, caught Bob, put him in the van, and went down to the station with Hampshire to meet a lady with a harp, for Hervey Benham.  He is organising a Sunday concert this afternoon, and she is one of the artistes.  The whole business was rather fantastic, as the harp, which travels in a vast case rather like a coffin, goes incognito in order to avoid railway charges.  What she consigns it as I could not discover.  The harpist was a faded, bespectacled female, very fussy, and was quite agitated when the whole “coffin” almost crashed to the ground through Bob moving forward a little.

However, we got it safely loaded, and I left her to Hampshire’s care to deliver it to the Regal and collect it again in due course.

I cycled on by Severalls and Langham to Lawford.  Langham Lane looks lovely.  It will all be destroyed if the proposed aerodrome is built there.  Had lunch at Lawford, for which I was rather late, and tea at the Belfields at Birchett’s Wood.  Penelope was there, lovely as ever, and a Pole and his wife.  The wife had only recently come out of France, but as she only spoke French and Polish I could not understand very much of her conversation.

Back to Lawford for supper, and then bed, lovely soft white bed.  Before I fell asleep I lay listening to rain falling in torrents.

E.J. Rudsdale now began lodging with Joy and Matthew Parrington at Sherbourne Mill, Lawford, near Colchester.  He had previously stayed with them for a week in March 1942 and prior to that had helped them with the harvest in August 1940.

9th May 1942

Rang Mrs. Parrington again tonight, and settled to move over to Lawford on Sunday.  Now I have made the decision I feel very much better.

8th May 1942

Lowering clouds!  Rain!  It began at 8 this morning, and soon fell steadily.  The wind had gone back to NE, and the temperature was many degrees cooler than yesterday.  It is wonderful how old or delicate people manage to keep alive in this climate.  This will bring the grass on tremendously.

Felt rather ill all day, for the first time for 10 days.  Rang up Mrs. Parrington tonight, and discussed the possibility of going over to Lawford [to live there]. 

7th May 1942

Still a clear blue sky, and not a sign of rain.  Joanna came in this morning with a broken finger through mishandling some posts at Mersea yesterday. 

This afternoon there was a great cloud of smoke drifting across the town, with a smell of burning wood.  I was having tea at the Regal when Capt. Folkard and Joe Percival came in.  They had come up from Wigborough, and said there was smoke drifting from the east all the way.  I cannot find out what it is, but I suppose it is some kind of smoke screen being tried out.

This evening I noticed how beautiful are the flowering cherry trees in Gladstone Road.  They are planted on the edges of the pavement, alternately pink and white, and are now a glorious mass of colour, with the bright green of the young tree leaves in the gardens behind them.  It is an extraordinarily beautiful sight, and quite transforms this rather dull late Victorian road.

About 8 tonight a man called Martin, a butcher, came to see me at the stables, most anxious to buy Robin.  I am not at all keen to let him go, and suggested if I did I should not consider less than £40, to which he immediately agreed.  I promised him a first offer if I did want to sell, and we left it at that.

6th May 1942

Royal Archaeological Institute Council at Burlington House today, but I could not go owing to the amount of work I have on hand.  I should have liked to have done so, as this is my last Council meeting, my three years term of office being finished.

5th May 1942

In the “Evening News” tonight, a denial is published from the Chief Constable of Ipswich that there is any intention to evacuate the town, but whether for risk of raids or invasion I cannot imagine.  However, there seems to be no invasion “flap” on at the moment among the garrison, most of whom are on manoeuvres.

Tonight I took a decisive step, and wrote to Hull asking to be relieved of Castle duties.  Had a note from the Chief Constable today to say that “specials” on shelter duty are to meet next Monday to receive new orders.  (Not that I have ever received any orders, so far as that goes).  Can't be there, as I shall be at Birch that evening [for the War Agricultural Committee meeting].

The town was full of Military Police tonight, as soldiers are coming back from “schemes”.  It seems very quiet these days, except on Saturdays, as there is little traffic.

For some reason I feel nervous and excited tonight.

In his letter to M.R. Hull, Rudsdale stated that his poor state of health and his increased workload for the War Agricultural Committee meant that he now needed proper rest and could no longer undertake air raid shelter and firewatching duties at Colchester Castle every night of the week, as he had done since October 1940.  Rudsdale suggested that he might continue his duties at the Castle on Saturday nights only and this was agreed.

3rd May 1942

Glorious day, warm, sunny, not a cloud in the sky.  Working in the office until 12, and then to the stables.  This afternoon went to Dedham.  Just as I was leaving the town about 50 fighters and bombers flew over in three formations, which doubtless before I reached Dedham would have brought death and misery to innocent people far away in France, whose only fault is that they failed to win a war. 
I took all my “Colchester” photos to Dedham, where I intend to leave them for a while, out of reach I hope of both Hull and the Germans.  Major Inde called at the Sissons.  He had heard that 400 people had been killed at Norwich, but had no authority for it.  Sisson is going up there next week, so we may expect some accurate news soon.

Mrs Sisson confided in me her hope of being able to live in Dublin after the war, as she thinks it will be the only decent place left to live in.  I quite agree with her.

Both the Sissons were at Bristol last weekend, and had rather a distressing time, as there was a battery of 120 guns quite near.  An aircraft factory at Bristol was damaged.  They have no news of either Bath or York, other than that already published.

2nd May 1942

Took Robin for a run to Fingringhoe this afternoon.  Molly Blomfield came with me, so that she could report to her sister [about Robin] when they meet.  I am afraid she did not enjoy herself very much, as Robin is not quite used to traffic yet, and turned us round onto the pavement just by Old Heath “Bell”, because he saw a Rowhedge bus.

However, he went very well, full trot all the way, up and down hill.  We called at Fingringhoe Hall, where he was much admired.  We had to get back at 5.30, as Molly had to go on duty early, all ambulance drivers are now working double shifts.

On duty alone tonight, feeling rather depressed, but not quite so scared as I have been several times recently.  Went on the roof, to see a glorious orange sunset.  It has been a beautiful day.  There is still not a drop of water or sand on the roof.  No planes about.  None came over last night either, and on Thursday nearly a quarter of the attacking force was destroyed.

Hull apparently has no intention of doing any more museum work at all.  He is actually not on the premises more than 8 hours a week, and does no fire-watching at all.  Under the circumstances, I really do not think I can go on much longer.  When I think of the work I could get done away from this ruin, - done in comfort, it makes me realise what a fool I am to stay here night after night, often in a sweat of fear, when nobody, not a single soul, comes to see whether I am there or not.

Hull’s madness comes and goes in spasms.  I have only just heard that a few weeks ago he packed the whole of the Museum’s collection of Roman bronze fibulae into coarse cooking pots, and buried them in the Vaults, on the W. side of Wheeley’s Passage.  The only persons supposed to know this secret are Chapman and Poulter.  I have never heard of such a piece of nonsense, such insanity.  And apparently nothing can be done to stop him.

I can hear a plane going over now, fairly low, probably an RAF going across the sea, or else a night-fighter on patrol.

1st May 1942

White frost early this morning, but a bright sunny day, and much warmer. Looked like rain clouds gathering in the afternoon, but they all cleared away. The land needs rain badly, it is as hard as bricks. They were drilling barley at High Trees when we were there yesterday, and it was like scattering seed among stones.

Carl Stephenson came in today, and said that 6 AA guns had arrived at West House Farm from Hyde Park, and had camped on his sugar beet. Why they should do this when there is the whole of Sheepen Farm in a derelict state less than a mile away is difficult to say.

A jobbing gardener told Mother that 5,000 were killed in Norwich – an absolute lie, for which the man deserves to be imprisoned, or rather should not the Ministry of Information be imprisoned for making it possible for such lies to be spread?

Rose Browne heard from her mother who was at Bath that the city was devastated only the Roman baths remaining unhurt! Poulter has had a letter from Priestley, saying that damage is serious, and mentioned that the Assembly Rooms were burnt, as I already knew. I feel myself that most of the damage will be repairable.

Poulter’s friend Waller came down from Coventry today on a motorcycle. Took only 3 hours. He looked very worn and ill. Said that aircraft production was rapidly going down, while German production is increasing. I fancy he is experiencing labour troubles.